Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Lost Wallets
Can your dog’s photo help?

According to a psychology study by Richard Wiseman in Edinburgh, Scotland, the likelihood that your lost wallet will be returned to you is influenced by the photos in it. The highest percentage of wallets were returned when there was a baby picture inside (88 percent), but the next most effective photo was one of a dog at 53 percent. A family portrait prompted a 48% return rate while wallets with photos of an elderly couple were only returned 28 percent of the time. Only 20 percent of wallets without photos but containing a charity receipt were returned, and 15 percent of those without a photo or a receipt were turned in. So, that photo of your dog may be great insurance against the loss of a wallet, though a baby picture is even better.

  The scientist who conducted the study says the results suggest that people are naturally compassionate and want to protect vulnerable babies. So, what do you think? Do puppies make people react in the same way as babies but perhaps not as intensely? Do puppies cause the same strong reaction as babies in some people but not others? Or is the reaction a different, though also caring response? What else could explain what the researchers found?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
National Mutt Census
Mars Veterinary gathers data on American mixed breed pups

The recent popularity of canine DNA breed tests have given those with mixed breeds a chance to learn more about their pups’ backgrounds. There are an estimated 38 million mixed breed dogs in the United States, a large group of canines we know very little about. 

This year, Mars Veterinary has launched the 2010 National Mutt Census to systematically collect the data dog lovers have been uncovering. 

Breed tests aren’t required to participate, but are encouraged. Mars Veterinary has two versions, Wisdom Panel Insights, which can be done at home with a cheek swab, and the more comprehensive Wisdom Panel Professional, which is a blood-based test administered by your veterinarian.

The National Mutt Census just covers the basic information -- whether the dogs were adopted from a shelter, their size and their diet, but it’s a great first step towards understanding the make-up of the American mixed breed population.

All participants will also be automatically entered in a sweepstakes to win prizes. 

So far over 12,000 pups are registered. I hope many more mutts will participate!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Memories of Dogs
First childhood experiences

My parents, who are otherwise absolutely lovely people, are not that fond of animals, so I did not have a dog growing up. The year I was three, we spent one year away from Wisconsin in Palo Alto, California while my professor Dad was on sabbatical. I was ecstatic to learn that an Old English Sheep Dog lived across the street from us. I loved that dog! I used to go over to visit him as often as I was allowed.

  I have no memories whatsoever of the people who lived there, but they must have been very nice because they tolerated me coming over to lie on the floor next to their dog (whose name is lost to family memory) and talking to him. (Even back then I would talk to anyone—some things never change!)   I would gently use my finger to hold up all the hair that grew over his beautiful eyes so that I could see them. He was remarkably patient with me, and it’s really a wonder I was never bitten with that kind of fearlessness and presumptuousness around dogs. (Some things DO change and I know better now!)   This is my earliest memory of dogs, and it’s such a fond one. I still feel all warm and fuzzy when I think of the time I spent visiting that dog, and I’m grateful to have had such a positive experience.   In contrast, my husband’s first memory of dogs is of being terrorized by Dobermans who lived behind him. He and his brothers were never actually hurt by those dogs on the other side of the fence, but the growling and barking certainly scared them. My husband loves dogs (Thank goodness we’re not a mixed marriage in that way!) but his warmest thoughts of canines don’t go back to his earliest memories of them.   What are your earliest memories of dogs and how have they influenced you?


News: Guest Posts
One Dog’s Bed Is Cooper’s Comfort
An old dog bed helped a new pup feel at home

When my brother and his family lost their loyal German Shepherd, Sheba, last year, it was difficult to pull up onto their driveway. I expected to hear that high-pitched, excited whine and the whap, whap, whap of her tail against the chain-link fence. Instead, there was silence. Inside the house, there was an emptiness in space, in the places where Sheba would normally be -- groveling at my feet for a quick pat on the head, howling her heart out for attention, and scampering around the living room carrying her raggedy duck in her mouth. There were also the empty spaces where her things had been –- her food bowls, her leash, her much-loved dog bed.

One couple decided to keep their late dog’s bed up in their bedroom. Eventually, they adopted a new dog from the local shelter. Cooper’s paperwork said he was a good dog but required that you be “very very firm” with him. Poor guy. No wonder he was an anxious little ball of energy. For the first few days, they slept downstairs with him. Finally, he grew bold enough to explore upstairs and he found what they had forgotten –- the old dog bed. He was home.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog on a Roof
Where have you spotted one?

A few blocks from my house, I saw a dog up on the roof. Shea was not atop a dog house, like Snoopy, but some 15 feet off the ground on the roof of a people house. She looked comfortable up there, and though it made me a little nervous, I didn’t feel as though she was in immediate danger.

  Racing home for my camera, I thought, “Please don’t come down until I get the photo, please don’t get down until I get the photo.” She was still there minutes later when I returned. A woman then came out of the house and told me that I was not the first person to take a picture of Shea, who loved to be up on the roof and regularly spent time up there.   This has got to be one of the most unusual places I have ever seen a dog, but I suspect that even odder locations have been observed by others. In what weird or unexpected places have you seen a dog?
News: Guest Posts
The Laziest Dog Walker on Earth
Dog owner driven to stupidity

When I ran cross country in high school, I was envious of the boys' team because their coach actually ran with them. Our coach had a different approach. He drove behind us in his car, honking once to speed up and twice to slow down. Occasionally, he'd yell out something quasi motivational, like "Work the hill!" We always competed well and even went to state competition one year, so he was doing something right.

Wish I could say the same for 23-year-old Paul Railton of London. A cyclist spotted him driving his car 5 mph while holding onto his dog’s leash as the poor pooch trotted alongside. Was he training the dog for a marathon or something? Of course not! He admitted to police that there was “an element of laziness” behind his actions. Wow, you think?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Whole Family Is Welcome at Church
Yes, that includes dogs

Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles allows dogs to come to its Sunday night prayer services, which are led by Reverend Tom Eggebeen. Welcoming canines to places of worship is a growing trend that reflects an increasing recognition of the strong bonds that people have with their dogs. The goal behind canine-friendly services is to make people feel more comfortable at church.

  Sometimes dogs do become a bit unruly and need to be taken outside to relax, but Reverend Eggebeen says that happens with unruly kids on occasion, too. He says that if all the dogs start barking, they usually quiet down when the congregation sings “Amazing Grace.”   Many people are supportive of dogs being in church, but others have been critical of the policy. What do you think about dogs coming to church? Would you be in favor of having canines at your place of worship or against it?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Winter Olympians and Their Dogs
Athletes love ‘em, too!

If you are addicted to the Olympics, as I am, you probably find it fun to know as much as possible about the lives of the athletes. Most have made a lifetime of sacrifices for their sport and to pursue excellence in it. Many credit the love and support of family with helping them to achieve their goals of competing at the highest level at the Olympics. For a large number of Olympians, that family includes pets, and these mighty athletes are just as in love with their dogs as the rest of us are with ours. Check out the pets of your favorite Olympic athletes and read what they have to say about them.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Couture
Does your dog really need that coat?

Dog clothing ranges from frilly dresses to warm fleece coats. The popularity of canine couture has even given way to the annual Pet Fashion Week. But, given that most dogs have fur, are these outfits really necessary?

According to Dr. Bonnie Beaver of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs don’t get sick when the mercury drops since there is no cold virus that affects them. She says that unless your pup is tiny with short hair, dogs are rarely bothered by freezing temperatures. But Beaver stresses that clothing can be potentially dangerous. 

Some dogs, like many northern breeds, regulate their body temperature with an insulating layer of fur that lifts off their bodies in warm weather and pulls in close to trap heat in cold weather. Putting clothes on these dogs can lead to heat stroke.

Clothes can also restrict movement, hurting joins and muscles, or get caught in long hair, causing discomfort. 

My pups only have two items of clothing, a cool coat for warm weather and a rain coat, though I can’t say that I haven’t been tempted by cute canine outfits. Fortunately for my dogs, most clothes look funny on hairy Shelties.

Certainly most dogs don’t really need any clothes, but I do agree that there are some dogs that may need some extra warmth in the winter. 

What do you think about canine clothing?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
When a Beloved Dog Dies
How do others help you handle the grief?

My dear friend Trisha McConnell recently lost her 16-year old dog Lassie. She has written extensively about all her dogs, including Lassie, in books, magazines and on her blog, and many people who have never even met Lassie felt the loss and grieved along with Trisha. In fact, following her blog entry about Lassie’s passing, there are over 300 comments of love and support.

  This tells me that as a community of dog lovers, we are sticking together and helping each other with the toughest task many of us face—saying good-bye. When we need one another, our community steps up, and that is something to feel good about. It’s so important when you lose a dog to be around people who understand how big the loss is and to hear from friends and family (or even strangers) that they share our pain.   That sort of support is priceless because, regrettably, there are people out there who just don’t get how hard it is to lose a dog, or don’t seem to realize that dogs are part of our family. (Sometimes people say things like, “Well she was getting old, you must have been expecting it.” Or, “It will be nice to get a puppy and have a young dog again.”   Or worse, “Well, it was only a dog after all.” These sorts of comments may be well meaning, but are never helpful.)   Whenever I learn that someone I know has lost a dog, I send a card with a note about my favorite recollection of that dog, what that dog meant to me, or what I will always remember about her (or him.) I always hope that an expression of love and caring will be welcome, even though nothing can take away the pain. I’d like to hear from you. What did people do that helped you heal from the loss of a dog, or at least made you feel loved and supported? (And if you’d like to share any comments that would have been better left unsaid, feel free to do that, too.)